Massage therapy is a natural, drug free, and cost-effective way to treat chronic pain. Massage was once considered a “luxury spa treatment” and is now recognized for its many healing properties and vital part in our overall wellness – just as our ancient predecessors from China and Egypt recognized thousands of years ago. Certainly, there are luxury components to massage that spas can add to your experience to provide an even more relaxing and deeper connection to your “self” than the therapeutic massage and fascial release (relief of bound up muscle and tissue fibers) alone. The art of massage aids in whole-body wellness, and connection of mind, body, and spirit.
Why Get a Massage?
Massage can be a tool to help individuals recover more rapidly from workouts or strenuous competition. By releasing the muscle fibers that bind up through continuous motion and use, the body becomes more relaxed and flexible, thus allowing recovery to occur naturally and rapidly. Not only athletes benefit from this therapeutic recovery, but also the person who sits at a desk for several hours or stands up all day. When our bodies become “locked” in certain positions for lengthy periods of time, the muscles and connective tissues tend to become more rigid and hypertonicity can occur, thus creating discomfort or pain in upper/lower back, neck, or legs.
Pain Relief from Massages
Lower back pain may be caused by tight gluteal muscles which occurs from both normal activities and daily use. Neck pain is typically caused by computer or deskwork when having your head “locked into position” while working. The build-up of lactic acid in one’s muscles can also cause discomfort or cramping. Breaking down this acid can provide better blood flow to the muscles, thus decreasing the muscle cramps and discomfort. Massage can also benefit the cardiovascular system through improved blood flow. With cardiovascular and heart disease on the rise, it is important to have a healthy regimen of proper fitness, nutrition, and body-wellness routines. Other benefits of massage include soothing anxiety, easing depression, relieving stress caused by headaches, and increasing quality of sleep. The needs and expectations for each individual will dictate what type of massage will be most beneficial.
Forms of Massage
Swedish Massage is the most common form of massage. These are full body treatments with mid-range strokes that provide deep relaxation. This type of massage is benefits a wide range of people from high intensity athletes to less active persons of any age or stage of life. This massage is also used to aid healing and recovery and may be provided as part of a palliative care for long term illnesses.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils and is a complementary treatment incorporated into Swedish massage to provide a deeper state of relaxation.
Hot Stone therapy uses hot stones during a massage to provide a more rapid relaxation of muscle fiber to allow the therapist to reach areas of tension.
Deep Tissue massage involves the use of direct pressure over the muscle area where a knot (spasm) has formed in the muscle fiber. With application of pressure, the therapist can reach the deeper layers of the muscle to allow tension release.
Sports massage is a focused manipulation of the body’s soft tissues in a continuous therapeutic motion. This type of massage can help with increased blood flow and range of motion to allow for greater flexibility in specific muscle groups.
Whatever type of massage you choose, rest assured, you are not only helping your body “feel better”, but you are improving cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, psychological, and total wellness by implementing this as a regular part of your total health and wellness regimen. The many benefits of massage may leave you asking, “Why have I not already included this as a part of my weekly or monthly health and wellness regimen?”